Friday, May 30, 2008

Random Leftovers From NBA Western Conference Finals


Even though it did not go the full seven games, this year's Western Conference Finals did not disappoint. The series featured spectacular plays, drama and controversy. But when it was all said and done, I believe most people--including the Spurs--would say that the best team won.

So before we head to the NBA Finals, I thought I would drop a few random leftover thoughts.

1) Kobe Bryant Is Really Good: I know. I know. Duh, right? Kobe has been the best all-around player in the league for several years now, so it's not like I'm making any historic comment here. I'm just saying. Any comparisons to LeBron James, Dwayne Wade or Chris Paul always fall short.

But having said that, this year's MVP may have surpassed most expectations yet again. He took over portions of the games against the Spurs anytime he wanted, and there was absolutely nothing anyone could do about it. Bruce Bowen be damned.

Now Kobe finds himself just four more wins away from achieving his number one goal since the Lakers shipped Shaq to Miami. He wants to bring a championship to LA with him as the team's centerpiece. And with his 31.9 scoring average in the postseason, maybe the NBA is indeed Kobe's world and everyone else is just standing behind the velvet rope hoping they are on the guest list.

2) The Spurs Are Old: Yeah, it's another obvious statement. Just about everyone knew San Antonio represented the old guard in the league, but I think this year's squad was closer to winning an AARP championship than the NBA title. No disrespect to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and company, but I think Utah would have beaten the Spurs if they faced them in the playoffs. So even though they finished runners-up in the West, I don't think the Spurs were the second-best team.

You can expect some serious roster turnover for next season. San Antonio desperately needs to get younger and more athletic if they want to compete with the likes of LA, Utah, and New Orleans. And oh yeah, don't sleep on Portland next season either.

3) Thursday Night Throwdown: I went out to Hollywood after Game 5. Charles Barkley told me to meet him at Goa after the game. Little did I know at the time that the club was co-owned by LA Clippers guard Cuttino Mobley, who was holding court at his own table. I won't divulge all the names of the people kicking it with us, but I will say it did include some current Lakers and a couple of "Girls Next Door".

4) Let's Go Celtics: I know as a respected--if only in my own mind--member of the media, I am supposed to be impartial when it comes to the outcomes of games and/or series. And if you have ever seen me working a game, you know that I never cheer even if the game features one of my favorite teams. Although I cannot say that about all reporters who cover games. But I digress.

Even though I'm not supposed to, I find myself openly rooting for the Celtics to knock off the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, and my reason is strictly selfish. I do not want to go to Detroit for the NBA Finals. I want to go to Boston. It's not as if I have anything against Detroit. In fact, when I traveled there for the 2004 NBA Finals, I had a great time and met some great people. But in the words of Dr. Dre, I've been there. I've done that. Now I want to do something else, and that means a maiden voyage to Beantown. Yeah, that's right. I have never been to Boston. It's a city I have wanted to visit for sometime now, but actually making it there never worked out. So with an opportunity to hang out in Boston for a few days well within my grasp, and on the company dime, I cannot help myself but to root for the Celtics. Come on, Boston. Don't let me down!

Your NFL Labor Questions Answered


With the news last week that the NFL owners had voted to opt out of the final year of the collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association, there's been some confusion in the minds of fans. So in an effort to help educate the league's fan base, the NFL issued this following news release. Enjoy!



CBA-RELATED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Q. When does the CBA expire should there be no extension to the agreement?

A. After the 2010 NFL season.

Q. Will there be a college draft in 2011?

A. Yes.

Q. What is the “Final League Year” in the current agreement?

A. The “Final League Year” is the term used in the CBA to refer to the last year of the agreement. Without a further extension of the CBA, the “Final League Year” would be the 2010 League Year.

Q. What are the differences between the “Final League Year” and any other “League Year?”

A. The principal differences are that in the “Final League Year,” there is no salary cap and there are substantial additional restrictions on player free agency.

Q. Now that 2009 is the last capped year, are there rules that impact player contract negotiations and a club’s salary cap planning?

A. Yes. Here are the key differences:
§ After the last game of the 2008 regular season, signing bonus proration is reduced from a maximum of six years to a maximum of five years.
§ In 2009, there is no June 1 rule for Signing Bonus acceleration. If a player is removed from the roster or his contract is assigned via waivers or trade at any time in the 2009 League Year, any unamortized signing bonus will be immediately included in Team Salary.
§ There is no year-end netting of incentives in 2009. Not-likely-to-be-earned incentives are charged to team salary immediately when earned, and likely-to-be-earned incentives are deducted when they are no longer possible to earn.
§ Guaranteed salary from 2010 and beyond is reallocated to capped years unless the entire 2009 salary is guaranteed.
§ 50% of guaranteed salary in any League Year beyond 2012 is reallocated to capped years.
§ The 30% increase rule restricts salary increases from 2009 to 2010. For example: a player with a $500,000 Salary in 2009 would be limited to annual salary increases of $150,000 ($500,000 x 30%) beginning in 2010.
§ A team can include only three veteran team incentives in a player contract covering 2009 and beyond. These incentives must also be coupled with a playtime requirement. Previously, clubs were limited to eight team incentives and no playtime requirement.

Q. Are current player benefits affected in the uncapped year?

A. We expect player benefits to decline in the uncapped year. The union agreed that in the uncapped year, clubs would be relieved of their obligation to fund numerous benefit programs. Examples include second career savings (401K), player annuity, severance pay, and tuition assistance. The total league-wide contributions to such plans in 2009, the last capped year, are expected to be in excess of $225 million, or more than $7 million per club.

Q. What are the categories of free agents?

A. Players are either “restricted” or “unrestricted” free agents. Within these categories there are also “transition” and “franchise” players.

Q. What determines an unrestricted free agent in the uncapped year?

A. In capped seasons (2008 and 2009), a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent if he has four or more accrued seasons. In the uncapped year (2010), a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent only if he has six or more accrued seasons. An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no compensation owed to his old club.

Q. What determines whether a player is a restricted free agent in the “Final League Year?”

A. In capped seasons (2008 and 2009), a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three accrued seasons. In the uncapped year (2010), a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three, four or five accrued seasons. The rights of restricted free agents remain unchanged in the uncapped year.

Q. What constitutes an “accrued season?”

A. Six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserved-injured or physically unable to perform lists.

Q. In addition to the right to designate a Franchise (or Transition) Player each capped year, can clubs designate additional players in the uncapped year?

A. Yes, one additional player can be tagged. In capped years (2008 and 2009), a club may designate a Franchise Player or a Transition Player. In the uncapped year (2010), a club may designate one additional Transition Player. A Transition Player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. A Transition Player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.

Q. What determines a Franchise Player?

A. A club can designate one franchise player in any given year. The type of franchise player depends on the amount of the old club’s offer. An “exclusive” franchise player – not free to sign with another club – must be offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year as of a predetermined date (April 18, in 2008), or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, or the average of the top five salaries at his position as of the end of last season – whichever of the three is greatest. If the player is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of last season at his position, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, he becomes a “non-exclusive” franchise player and can negotiate with other clubs. His old club can match a new club’s offer, or receive two first-round draft choices if it decides not to match the new club’s offer.

Q. What is the Final Eight Plan?

A. During the uncapped year, the eight clubs that make the divisional playoffs in the previous season have additional restrictions that limit their ability to sign Unrestricted Free Agents from other clubs. In general, the four clubs participating in the Championship Games are limited in the number of free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs. For the four clubs that lose in the Divisional playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign free agents based on the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters.

Q. Is there an Entering Player Pool in the uncapped year?

A. There may be. The CBA provides that the league has the unilateral right to make that determination in an uncapped year.

Q. Is there a Minimum Team Salary in the uncapped year?

A. There is no Minimum Team Salary in the uncapped year. The Minimum Team Salary in 2008 is $100,224,000, meaning each team is required to spend $100 million this year on player costs (not including benefits). The team salary cap in 2008 is $116 million.

Q. Are there individual player minimum salaries in the uncapped year?

A. Yes, but they rise at a rate somewhat slower than player minimum salaries rise in capped years.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One More Win Puts Lakers In NBA Finals


Controversial finish or not, the Lakers now find themselves up three games to one on the defending champion Spurs with a chance to close out the series at Staples Center Thursday night.

But as Kobe Bryant told me, "closing out a team in a playoff series is one of the most difficult things to do in sports."

For those of you who find trends interesting, consider this little note: the last time the Lakers were up three games to one in a playoff series, they lost the final three games to the Suns in the first round back in 2006.

However, the Spurs have never rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the postseason.

One other good note for the Lakers: they haven't lost at home since March 28th--that's 13 straight wins at Staples Center.

Game 5 tips off Thursday at 6pm pacific (9pm eastern) on TNT.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

LAKERS CENTER ANDREW BYNUM HAS SUCCESSFUL KNEE SURGERY


El SEGUNDO--Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee today in New York, it was announced today by the team.


The procedure, which took 30 minutes and was performed by Dr. David Altchek, consisted of removing some cartilage debris and smoothing some rough spots on the underside of the kneecap.

Bynum is expected to make a full recovery by the start of training camp.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

McCain Adviser Keeps Vow Not To Oppose Obama


As I have stated before, I have been fascinated by politics since junior high school. I even minored in political science in college. I have studied and paid close attention to every presidential election since 1984, but the following story seems to be a first to me. It's not uncommon for high ranking campaign officials to relinquish their duties or be forced to do so prior to the election. But I cannot recall a time that a senior adviser would leave one campaign simply because he/she did not want to campaign against one particular candidate, especially one from an opposing party. I'm really at a loss for words as for what this move means for John McCain, and better yet, Barack Obama.


FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (Reuters) - A senior adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Tuesday that he was stepping down to keep a commitment he made not to campaign against Democrat Barack Obama.

Mark McKinnon, who was in charge of the McCain campaign's advertising message, said he was still backing the Arizona senator, but that he was simply moving from active campaign participant to cheerleader.

"I'll still be around occasionally in my lucky hat," said McKinnon, who often wears a distinctive hat.

McKinnon, who was a key aide in President George W. Bush's two election victories, has expressed admiration for Obama and pledged not to campaign against the Democratic front-runner if he became the party's presidential nominee.

A McCain campaign official said McKinnon had notified the campaign of his decision to leave but declined further comment. The McCain campaign had been expecting McKinnon's move for some months and was not surprised at his decision.

Obama, an Illinois senator, remains locked in a battle with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination and the right to face McCain in the November general election.

Projections showed him losing the Kentucky primary to Clinton on Tuesday, but he was favored to win the later Oregon contest. His showing on Tuesday was expected to give him a majority of the elected delegates to the party's nominating convention in August.

Neither of the Democratic candidates have enough elected delegates to win the nomination, leaving the race to be decided by so-called superdelegates -- party leaders and elected officials who can vote for the candidate of their choosing.

The Cox News Service reported that McKinnon told McCain last summer that he would not work for him in the general election if Barack Obama became the Democratic nominee, saying

"I just don't want to work against an Obama candidacy."

At the time, Obama and McCain each looked like long shots for nomination.

On Sunday, McKinnon told the news service that he will continue to support McCain.

"I will still show up from time to time (and) talk to the candidate still, but not about Obama."


(Writing by JoAnne Allen; editing by David Alexander)

Spurs Spend The Night On Plane


Talk about a jacked up way to spend the night. This story was all the talk today at Lakers practice. A reporter asked Kobe Bryant if he had any sympathy for a team having to spend the night on an airplane fresh off a Game Seven win on the road, to which Kobe shook his head and said, "Nope!"


SAN ANTONIO (AP) - The San Antonio Spurs' departure from New Orleans after winning Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals was delayed several hours after their plane had mechanical problems, the team said Tuesday.

The team could not find hotel rooms in the city, so the players had to sleep on the plane, team spokesman Cliff Puchalski said.

"We slept on the plane — as much as you can sleep," Puchalski said. "We tried to keep some normal semblance of order."
The Spurs eliminated the Hornets 91-82 in Game 7 Monday night, then went straight to Los Angeles, where they play the Lakers in Game 1 of the conference finals on Wednesday.

Puchalski said the team slept on the plane with the mechanical problems before boarding another plane that was brought in from Minneapolis. The team took off about 6:30 a.m. Central time, Puchalski said, and landed in Los Angeles about four hours later.

The team was not practicing Tuesday.

Lakers And Spurs Renew Their Postseason Rivalry


When Game One of the Western Conference Finals tips off Wednesday night at Staples Center, it will mark the sixth time since 1999 that the Lakers and the Spurs have met in the playoffs. LA has won three of the previous five meetings.

And of the 9 NBA Finals played since 1999, eight of them have featured either the Lakers or the Spurs with San Antonio winning four championships versus three for the LA.

Of course the last time the Lakers and Spurs met in the postseason was the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals. When in the closing second of Game Five, Derek Fisher hit one of the most unforgettable clutch shots in Lakers playoff history.

"I was reminded by some of my teammates of that shot before the Spurs/Hornets game ended," said Fisher after practice on Tuesday. "But hopefully none of the games this year will come close to needing something like that."

As far as this season is concerned, the Lakers and the Spurs split the season series with each team winning on its home court.

And when you think about it, it’s fitting that these two teams would meet in the Western Conference Finals as the Lakers are trying to climb their way back to the NBA mountaintop. As Kobe Bryant told me, "in order to be the best, you have to beat the best."

And right now the defending champion Spurs are definitely the best in the NBA.

MRI Shows Torn Knee Cartilage For Andruw Jones


The LA Times is reporting that Dodgers centerfielder Andruw Jones has torn cartilage in his right knee and may need surgery. It's hard to say how much this injury has to do with his struggles at the plate, but it could definitely lead to some bad swings if his back leg is either constantly hurting or if it's unstable.


However, as we pointed out on Dodgers Live last week, this slump Jones is suffering through dates all the way back to the end of the 2006 season. I don't think his knee has been hurting that long.


NFL ROOKIES TO VISIT PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME IN NEW ORIENTATION PROGRAM


I think this is a great move, and it's something other professional sports leagues should institute. It seems as though with each passing year, younger players have less appreciation and respect for those who came before them. Getting a serious dose of history before entering the league should go a long way in reminding these rookies just how fortunate they are to be professional athletes.



Visits To Take Place May 28-June 23

All NFL rookies will visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, as an expanded element of their annual orientation program, it was announced today. The trips are designed to teach incoming players about the history of pro football and give them a greater appreciation of the NFL and the opportunities and responsibilities ahead.


Each team's tour will be headed by its player development director and will include speakers representing former NFL players, Pro Football Hall of Fame personnel and others.


The idea was inspired by 2007 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee MICHAEL IRVIN in a conversation with NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL last August in Canton.


NFL Player Development and the Pro Football Hall of Fame are coordinating the visits to Canton, which will take place from May 28-June 23. Rookies will learn about the NFL's history and heritage, focusing on the achievements of NFL greats who paved the way for today's players. This experience will help prepare rookies for their own careers while stressing the importance of their role as NFL players.


"Some of the most valuable lessons for our young men can be learned from those who played before them," said NFL Vice President of Player and Employee Development MIKE HAYNES, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1997. "The rookie orientation activities at the Pro Football Hall of Fame are a great way to provide a look at the rich history and tradition of our game."


The trips to Canton are part of several rookie orientation initiatives designed to ease new players' transition to the NFL. Draftees also will attend the annual Rookie Symposium in San Diego, California, from June 29-July 2, and rookies at 19 teams will participate in the first NFL Player Brand University, learning how the choices they make in business and in the community shape their overall image.

NFL Owners Opt Out Of Labor Deal


NFL owners voted unanimously today to opt out of the final year of the collective bargaining agreement. The NFL Players Association had expected this move for a while, and the good news is that the owners did not wait until the November deadline to make this move allowing them an earlier start for negotiations with the players.


If a deal is not reached by the end of the 2009 season, the 2010 season could be played without a salary cap, and the 2011 season could start with a lockout.


Here's the official NFL release on the news:



NFL STATEMENT ON CBA EARLY TERMINATION DECISION

What happened?

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement, initially negotiated in 1993, has been extended on several occasions, most recently in March 2006. The 2006 extension, which could have continued through the 2012 season, gave both the NFL and the NFLPA an option to shorten the deal by one or two years.

NFL clubs today voted unanimously to exercise that option and to continue negotiating a new agreement for the 2011 season and beyond that will work better for both the clubs and the players.

What does this mean to fans and games on the field?

Even without another agreement, NFL football will be played without threat of interruption for at least the next three seasons. The 2008 and 2009 seasons will be played with a salary cap. If there is no new agreement before the 2010 season, that season will be played without a salary cap under rules that also limit the free agency rights of the players. If not extended, the agreement would expire at the end of the 2010 league year.

We are resolved to do our best to achieve a fair agreement that will allow labor peace to continue through and beyond the 2011 season.

What are the issues?

A collective bargaining agreement has to work for both sides. If the agreement provides inadequate incentives to invest in the future, it will not work for management or labor. And, in the context of a professional sports league, if the agreement does not afford all clubs an opportunity to be competitive, the league can lose its appeal.

The NFL earns very substantial revenues. But the clubs are obligated by the CBA to spend substantially more than half their revenues – almost $4.5 billion this year alone -- on player costs. In addition, as we have explained to the union, the clubs must spend significant and growing amounts on stadium construction, operations and improvements to respond to the interests and demands of our fans. The current labor agreement does not adequately recognize the costs of generating the revenues of which the players receive the largest share; nor does the agreement recognize that those costs have increased substantially -- and at an ever increasing rate -- in recent years during a difficult economic climate in our country. As a result, under the terms of the current agreement, the clubs’ incentive to invest in the game is threatened.

There are substantial other elements of the deal that simply are not working. For example, as interpreted by the courts, the current CBA effectively prohibits the clubs from recouping bonuses paid to players who subsequently breach their player contacts or refuse to perform. That is simply irrational and unfair to both fans and players who honor their contracts. Also irrational is that in the current system some rookies are able to secure contracts that pay them more than top proven veterans.

Our objective is to fix these problems in a new CBA, one that will provide adequate incentives to grow the game, ensure the unparalleled competitive balance that has sustained our fans’ interest, and afford the players fair and increasing compensation and benefits.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jeanie Buss: I'm The Poster Child For Not Mixing Business With Pleasure

When the Lakers were struggling during the Rudy Tomjanovich era, Jeanie Buss was the biggest advocate, if not cheerleader, for bringing Phil Jackson back to coach the Lakers. Although she has always maintained that she does not have any say in basketball matters, what father doesn't listen to his little girl?

So with that being said, if the Lakers win this year's NBA title shouldn't Jeanie Buss get some credit for making it happen? I mean, Mitch Kupchak gets all the credit for drafting Andrew Bynum and making the trade for Pau Gasol. But where would the Lakers be without the Zen Master?

This is part of an older interview I conducted with Jeanie Buss shortly after Phil Jackson came back to coach the Lakers for a second time. In this clip, Jeanie talks about the delicate balance between her business life and her relationship with the Lakers head coach.


John McCain: The Master of Double Speak

I recently stumbled across this video on youtube.com. It's a great example of what frustrates the average American about politicians. Depending on the situation, a candidate will say whatever he/she believes will cast them in the best light at that particular moment, even if they have said something completely different in the past.

Looks like someone needs to show John McCain how to use youtube.com so he can go back and remind himself of his previous statements.


DUNLEAVY TO BE INDUCTED IN SOUTH CAROLINA ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME


Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach and former University of South Carolina stand-out guard Mike Dunleavy headlines the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame's Class of 2008, which will be inducted tonight in a ceremony at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, South Carolina.

Rounding out the class of 2008 are NFL defensive stalwarts Levon Kirkland of Clemson and Ernie Jackson of Duke, 13-year Major League Baseball pitcher Bob Bolin, former LPGA golfer Dottie Pepper of Furman, South Carolina high school basketball coach Carl Williams and the late University of South Carolina sports information director Tom Price.

In addition to the actual Hall of Fame inductions, several other awards will be presented, including the Bobby Richardson Sportsmanship Award. Some 40 past inductees will return for the banquet's famous parade-of-stars entrance to the banquet hall.

Dunleavy, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., started all four years at South Carolina under then head coach Frank McGuire, and finished his four-year collegiate career as USC's third all-time leading scorer with 1,586 career points. The 6-2, 175-pound all-purpose guard averaged 14.3 points over his career, including 16.0 ppg as a sophomore and 16.3 ppg as a junior. He appeared in 111 consecutive games for the Gamecocks, starting his last 105. A straight-A psychology major, Dunleavy went on to an 11-year NBA playing career, compiling career averages of 8.0 points and 3.9 assists.

In 2008, Dunleavy completed his fifth season as head coach of the Clippers by permanently etching his name in the franchise record books despite a difficult season that saw the team suffer through a league-high 321 games lost due to injury and illness. He became the Clippers all-time franchise leader in victories when he won his 159th game on Dec. 7, 2007, surpassing Dr. Jack Ramsay. Dunleavy’s 410 games on the Clippers sideline is the most games coached in club history, as he passed Ramsay (1972-76) and Bill Fitch (1994-98) on Nov. 2, 2007.

Prior to joining the Clippers, the 15-year NBA coaching veteran guided the Portland Trail Blazers for four seasons (1997-2001), leading them to a 190-106 (.642) record and four straight playoff appearances. Under Dunleavy, the Blazers made two consecutive trips to the Western Conference Finals in 1999 and 2000 with the 1999-00 club winning 59 games, matching the second-best victory total in Blazers history. Dunleavy earned the 1999 NBA Coach of the Year award after leading the 1998-99 Blazers to a Pacific Division-winning 35-15 record. Dunleavy’s first head coaching opportunity came with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1990-91, when he led them to a 58-24 record and a berth in the NBA Finals, where they lost in five games to the Chicago Bulls. During the Lakers’ run through the 1991 NBA Playoffs, Los Angeles defeated Houston (3-0), Golden State (4-1) and upset Portland (4-2) in the Western Conference Finals, after the Blazers had posted the league’s best regular season record (63-19) and two straight NBA Finals appearances. The following year, the Lakers posted a 43-39 record and dropped a first-round series to Portland. Dunleavy moved on in 1992 to Milwaukee, where he compiled a 107-221 (.326) record over four seasons while holding the dual title of Vice President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach.

Lamar, SC native Kirkland, an All-American at Clemson, went on to become an All-Pro with the Pittsburgh Steelers while fellow-inductee Jackson starred at Columbia's Lower Richland High School before becoming a two-time All-American at Duke and playing eight years in the NFL.

Bolin, from Hickory Grove, SC, pitched for the Giants, Brewers and Red Sox from 1961-1973. The side-arming right-hander recorded the National League's second lowest ERA of 1.99 in 1968. At career end, he ranked No. 9 in MLB history in career-low ERA among pitchers with 500-plus innings.

Pepper helped establish Furman as a women's golf power before winning 17 LPGA tournaments, including two majors. Williams won state championships at three different Columbia-area schools --- Booker T. Washington, Flora twice, and Lower Richland --- while compiling more than 500 victories and sending Xavier McDaniel, Tyrone Corbin and Leon Benbow to the NBA.

Price publicized USC athletes for more than 40 years and authored several books on Carolina sports. He will be only the third person to be inducted in the contributor category following USC announcer Bob Fulton and Clemson publicity director Bob Bradley.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Andrew Bynum To Undergo Knee Surgery


Here's the Associated Press story on the announcement that Andrew Bynum will need surgery. Considering how long it has been since Bynum first dislocated his kneecap, it's no surprise that this step was necessary to get him ready for next season. I believe this is the right move even if it did take several months for the doctors, bynum and the team to come to this conclusion. First of all, Bynum's future health should be the first priority, and secondly, since the trade for Pau Gasol, the Lakers are doing just fine on the court.


EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- More than four months after Andrew Bynum injured his left knee, it's been decided the Los Angeles Lakers center will undergo arthroscopic surgery.

The Lakers made the announcement Sunday, saying Dr. David Altchek will perform the procedure in New York on Wednesday -- the same day Bynum's team entertains San Antonio or New Orleans to begin the Western Conference finals.

An estimated timetable for Bynum's return will be provided following the surgery.

"I just hope for the best for him," teammate Luke Walton said following a light practice Sunday. "He was a huge part of our success early on and he's going to be a huge part of our future."

The Lakers said the procedure will entail a cleanup of some rough spots and fraying on the underside of Bynum's kneecap.

Bynum hasn't played since injuring his knee in the third quarter of a 100-99 victory over Memphis on Jan. 13 at Staples Center. The 20-year-old center averaged 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots in 35 games.
The Lakers estimated a day after Bynum was injured that he would be sidelined eight to 12 weeks. But coach Phil Jackson said April 21 that a return this season was remote, and Bynum said much the same thing shortly thereafter.

Dr. Altchek examined Bynum in New York on April 10 and declined to clear him for practice. The 7-footer was examined again May 7 in Princeton, N.J., by Dr. Steven Gecha, who said there had been some improvement in the knee, but recommended exploratory surgery if there wasn't more in the ensuing three to four weeks.

The decision was made a lot sooner than that.

"It's hard, I know that he is probably really frustrated right now," Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic said. "He's going through tough times. We miss him. Everybody knows he's going to have a good, long career in the NBA. He'll come back when he's ready."

Despite Bynum's absence, the Lakers went 57-25 to earn the top seed in the West, and 8-2 to eliminate Denver and Utah from the playoffs to reach the conference finals for the first time since 2004.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

Friday, May 16, 2008

California Soul

If you watch as much sports on TV as I do--although I would never wish that on anyone-- then you have probably seen a Dockers commercial or two. Over the last few years, I have found myself looking forward to the apparel company's latest campaign, and it has nothing to do with the clothes themselves. I don't think I own one piece of Dockers gear. It's a little too preppy for me, but I digress.

What I really love about the current wave of Dockers commercials is the way they portray San Francisco (one of my favorite cities) and the cool music they use. A couple of years ago, it was Madeleine Peyroux's "Don't Wait Too Long." You remember the scene with the two trolley cars, right? I fell in love with that song for a while.

And now, it's happened again.






Not only do I love the way the commercial is shot and edited--it does a great job of showing San Francisco's cool factor-- but I just love that damn song. After seeing the commercial about 5-6 times, I had to find out the name of the song and the artist.

Marlena Shaw's recording of "California Soul" appeared on her 1969 album "Spice of Life." Besides the Dockers commercials, the song has also been sampled in several hip-hop songs, and you can hear it in the background of a scene in "The Italian Job," although the song did not appear on the movie's soundtrack.

Besides just being an all-around catchy tune, the lyrics make the song enduring as well. Listen to the entire song below. I also found the lyrics so you can sing along. Enjoy!





Like a sound you hear
That lingers in your ear
But you can't forget
From sundown to sunset
It's all in the air
You hear it everywhere
No matter what you do
It's gonna grab a hold on you
California soul, California soul


They say the sun comes up every morning
And if you listen oh so carefully
The winds that ride on the high time
Whistle in melody
And so the people started to sing
And that's how the surf gave birth untold
To California soul, California soul


When you hear the beat
You wanna pat your feet
And you've got to move cause
It's really such a groove
Puts a brand new kind of thinkin' in your mind
And you can't go wrong
Cause you're groovin' all day long
California soul, California soul


They had the melody and the beat
But it still didn't seem complete
Until they saw two lovers kissin
They knew just what was missin
So happy they were rockin and reelin
Because that added that lovin feeling
To California soul, California soul


Like a sound you hear
That lingers in your ear

Nomar's Carne Asada Sunday Returns This Season


LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers and third baseman Nomar Garciaparra are inviting fans to enjoy Carne Asada Sunday on June 22 after the Dodgers host the Cleveland Indians at 1:10 p.m. Garciaparra created the event last season in a continued effort to give back to the community in which he was raised and in celebration of his Mexican-American heritage. Carne Asada Sunday, which is presented by Cacique, will once again include a live mariachi band from Baldwin Park’s Guadalajara Grill, food and beverages and each attendee will receive an autographed photo of the third baseman.

“Last year’s Carne Asada Sundays were even better than I expected,” said Garciaparra, who grew up in Whittier and attended St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower. “It was a cool experience to be able to spend time with the fans in a relaxed atmosphere and at the same time, support the Dodgers Dream Foundation.”

Garciaparra hosted two Carne Asada Sunday events last season and proceeds from the event helped purchase new equipment for two local Little Leagues at Garciaparra’s request.

Tickets to Carne Asada Sunday are on sale now for a $50 donation to Dodger Dream Foundation. In addition, fans must hold a game ticket for the June 22 game. Tickets to the event are sold during Dodgers Dream Foundation Auction Nights at the Reserve Level, Section 1, and at the Club Level auction table located by the Dodger Press Box. Upcoming game dates to purchase passes are: May 23, May 25, June 5, June 6, and June 8.

Fans can also secure their spot at Carne Asada Sunday by contacting the Community Affairs department at (323) 224-1435. Seating is limited to 250. Carne Asada Sunday is held at the Loge Terrace following the game on June 22.

The idea to host Carne Asada Sunday was conceived by Garciaparra last season and is one of many ways that he and his wife, soccer legend Mia Hamm, have given back to the community. In addition to taking part in the Dodgers’ Community Caravan in each of his three seasons with the club, he has conducted clinics, and visited hospitals on several occasions.

On January 26, he and Hamm hosted the inaugural Celebrity Soccer Challenge at the Home Depot Center which helped expand the national registry of bone marrow donors and while raising money for Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, pioneers in sport and world culture, are celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2008. In that period, they have won more games, more pennants, and more World Series than any other club in the National League. Since the start of the modern era in baseball, the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, combined, have a cumulative attendance of more than 176 million, the highest total in the history of baseball or any other sport.
Visit the Dodgers on the Internet at www.dodgers.com.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

John Edwards Endorses Barack Obama


I wanted to share an e-mail I received Wednesday from the Barack Obama campaign. I'm sure you've heard the news by now, but former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States. This endorsement has been a foregone conclusion for about a week now. I just wonder if Edwards is also setting himself up for a spot on Obama's ticket as vice president. It definitely makes for a formidable ticket.



Michael --


I have some very exciting news.

My good friend John Edwards is endorsing our campaign and joining our movement for change.

I'm deeply honored by John's support. He is a true leader who dedicated his career to improving the lives of ordinary Americans.

John ran a strong, principled campaign for president, focusing on a number of important issues where we share common ground -- universal health care, bringing our troops home from Iraq, and eliminating poverty in America.

The way he ran his campaign was also important. He ran in a way that reflected our shared conviction that we need to fundamentally change politics.
Like our campaign, John's campaign never accepted donations from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs.

Let's welcome John Edwards to the campaign with an outpouring of the kind of grassroots support that is bringing our political process back to the people.

Make a donation of whatever you can afford now, and if you choose, include your own note to Senator Edwards. I'll make sure he gets them: https://donate.barackobama.com/johnedwards


Thank you for all that you're doing,

Barack



One other note regarding the campaign: The news of this endorsement comes on the same day that Hillary Clinton stated publicly that even if she loses the Democratic nomination to Obama--which she will--that it would be a "terrible mistake" for the voters supporting her to turn around and give their support to Republican candidate John McCain. Said the former First Lady on CNN, "Anybody who has ever voted for me or voted for Barack has much more in common in terms of what we want to see happen in our country and in the world with the other than they do with John McCain."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett Reacts to OJ Mayo Allegations


In the midst of accusations that former USC basketball player OJ Mayo received improper benefits and gifts during his freshman season, Trojans AD Mike Garrett discussed those allegations today as well as the NCAA's previous investigation into Mayo's amateur status.

The full story appears here: http://usc.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=807427


FSN WEST AND FSN PRIME TICKET FOLLOW THE LAKERS FOR THE FANS


Regional Sports Network Provides Local Fans with “Lakers Live” Access and Analysis Throughout the Entire Post-Season

Los Angeles – FSN WEST, the destination for the most comprehensive coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers, is following the team throughout the entire post-season of the 2007-08 NBA Playoffs to provide local fans with local coverage.

“Lakers Live”, hosted by Michael Eaves with analyst Norm Nixon, will provide post-game reporting and expert analysis of Game 5 of Lakers vs. Jazz series on Wednesday, May 14. The show will begin airing on FSN PRIME TICKET at approximately at 10 PM, immediately following the game.

Game 5 coverage of the team will be shot live from Star Plaza outside the STAPLES Center in downtown Los Angeles.

FSN WEST’s Patrick O’Neal contributes his recent interview with Kobe Bryant as well as additional series reporting.

On Friday, May 16, a “Lakers Live” Game 6 post-game show will air at approximately 10 PM, immediately following the game, on FSN PRIME TICKET. A coverage plan for Game 7, if necessary, is to be determined.

About FSN WEST
One of the nation’s premier sports networks, FSN WEST has televised Los Angeles Lakers games for 22 seasons and continues to provide 24-hour sports programming to more than 6.7 million subscribers in Southern California, Nevada and Hawaii. In addition to the Los Angeles Lakers, FSN WEST is the destination for the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Los Angeles Galaxy. Together, FSN WEST and sister network FSN PRIME TICKET present more live, local sports programming than any other network or broadcast system in the market. For complete national and regional sports news, provocative opinions, telecast schedules and updated statistics, log-on to www.foxsports.com.

Thornton Named To NBA All-Rookie Team


Los Angeles Clippers rookie forward Al Thornton was named to the T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie First Team, the league announced today. Thornton garnered at total of 48 points in the final voting with 20 First Team points.

The 6’8” high-flyer from Florida State turned in a break-through rookie season, averaging 12.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 27.3 minutes in 79 games played (31 starts). He also connected on 374-871 FG (.429), 43-130 3FG (.331) and 214-288 FT (.743) on the year.

Thornton finished his first NBA campaign ranked second among rookies in scoring (12.7 ppg), fifth in minutes (27.3 mpg), eighth in rebounds (4.5 rpg), fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.331 3FG) and fourth in double-doubles (7). Thornton also poured in a 2007-08 NBA Rookie and Clippers’ season high 39 points vs. Memphis on March 29, 2008. The 39-point outburst also tied the Clipper rookie mark for points scored in a game (Terry Cummings – 3/9/83 and Tom Chambers – 4/15/82).

In addition, Thornton tallied 15.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in his 31 starts while scoring 20+ points on 20 occasions and 30+ points three times on the year. He led the Clippers in scoring 16 times, rebounding eight times, blocks 12 times and steals 10 times.

Rounding out the T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie First Team are Atlanta’s Al Horford (58 points), Seattle’s Kevin Durant (57 points), Houston’s Luis Scola (53 points) and Seattle’s Jeff Green (43 points).

The voting panel consisted of the NBA’s 30 head coaches, who were asked to select five players for the first team and five players for the second team, regardless of position. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players on their own team. Two points were awarded for first team votes and one for second team votes.

Building upon its already strong appeal to the nation's youth and as the Official Wireless Services Partner of the NBA, T-Mobile is showcasing the NBA's youngest players -- the Rookies -- through the NBA's Rookie program. Highlights include rookie awards presentations including the T-Mobile Rookie of the Year, T-Mobile Rookie of the Month Awards, and the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, an All-Star competition between NBA rookies and second-year players. During NBA All-Star 2008, T-Mobile Huddle Up and NBA Cares hosted more than 5,000 local students in the lower bowl of the arena to watch this year’s Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. This is a part of T-Mobile's continued efforts to connect kids to positive people, places and programs.

2007-08 T-MOBILE NBA ALL-ROOKIE FIRST TEAM

Al Horford Atlanta
Kevin Durant Seattle
Luis Scola Houston
Al Thornton LA Clippers
Jeff Green Seattle

2007-08 T-MOBILE NBA ALL-ROOKIE SECOND TEAM

Jamario Moon Toronto
Juan Carlos Navarro Memphis
Thaddeus Young Philadelphia
Rodney Stuckey Detroit
Carl Landry Houston

Other players receiving votes, with point totals (first place votes): Joakim Noah, Chicago, 17 (1); Yi Jianlian, Milwaukee, 13; Nick Young, Washington, 10 (2); Mike Conley, Memphis, 8 (1); Corey Brewer, Minnesota, 3 (1); Sean Williams, New Jersey, 3; Glen Davis, Boston, 3; Julian Right, New Orleans, 2; Jared Dudley, Charlotte, 2; Acie Law, Atlanta, 1; Javaris Crittenton, Memphis, 1; Aaron Brooks, Houston, 1; Wilson Chandler, New York, 1; Daequan Cook, Miami, 1.

Vote For Change

Last Saturday, thousands of supporters all across the country came together at more than 100 Vote for Change kickoff events -- including at least one in all 50 states.

They heard from speakers like Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick about how to register new voters effectively. Then they hit the streets and started making a difference in their own communities.




Here are two great stories from people who participated in a Vote for Change event this weekend:

"It was a really great feeling to see the community united by this effort. All ages, races and walks of life were represented at this event -- it was awesome to be part of a cohesive group working forward toward a common goal."
- Erika in Chandler, AZ

"The most exciting registrations that I worked on were young people who were registering for the very first time. I assisted two of these voters, and they were both so proud! One was about to graduate from high school and the other was in her first year at a local university. Being able to vote in their first presidential election, and to participate in American democracy, meant something really special to both of them."
- Julie in Tulsa, OK

LOS ANGELES CELEBRATES NASCAR DAY 2008



Who: Celebrity Friends and fans of NASCAR, Century Park Tenants and residents and Special Guest Drivers.


When: Friday, May 16, 2008
11:00 a.m.--2:00 p.m.


Where: The Quad at Century Park Towers
2049 Century Park East
Los angeles, CA 90067


What: NASCAR Day 2008 Celebration
NASCAR Day is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year! Annually held on the Friday prior to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge in May, NASCAR Day has become one of the most important and fastest-growing traditions in the NASCAR Family. Since the first celebration in 2004, NASCAR Day has raised almost $5 Million for the charitable initiatives so close to the hearts of the NASCAR Family.


NASCAR Day Festivities
Tenants and Residents will be joined by Local NASCAR Drivers, as well as the Beverly Hills High School Varsity Cheer and Drum Corp and 95.5 FM KLOS Street Team. The celebration will also include Official Sprint Cup Show Cars, the Auto Club Speedway Pace Car, Super truck and Super Late Model show cars, courtesy of the Richard Petty Driving Experience, Auto Club Speedway, and Irwindale Speedway. Attendees who make a minimum donation of $5 will be immediately entered to win an Auto Club Speedway Labor Day weekend VIP Prize package. They will also have an opportunity to compete for one of five RPDE Rookie/Ride-a-long Experiences, as they vie for one of the top five times in the RPDE Pit Crew Tire Challenge. (courtesy of the Richard Petty Driving Experience)


What is NASCAR Day?

NASCAR Day is a one-day celebration of the NASCAR spirit and its fans. In exchange for a $5 donation, participants will receive a commemorative NASCAR Day lapel pin.


Who NASCAR Day Supports

Established in 2006, The NASCAR Foundation was created to bring together a number of charitable organizations and initiatives within the NASCAR Family. While these organizations all serve a number of different initiatives –children’s causes, animal welfare and rescue, nature conservancy and more – they are all united by the common thread of NASCAR.


NASCAR Foundation

The Foundation supports a wide range of charitable initiatives that reflect the core values of the entire NASCAR Family. The NASCAR Foundation will use the strength of the sport and its people to make a difference in the lives of people who need it most. To learn more about The NASCAR Foundation and the causes we serve, visit www.nascar.com/foundation.

Monday, May 12, 2008

ANGELS ANNOUNCE 2008 YOUTH BASEBALL CLINIC SCHEDULE


During the 2008 season, the Angels and Memorial Care Medical Centers will host a series of youth baseball clinics to teach proper fundamentals of the game to area children. The clinics are held in conjunction with local parks and recreation departments with Angels players/coaches serving as instructors for each clinic. Each youth clinic is free and open to the public.


MemorialCare is a nationally-recognized, not-for-profit health system, with top ratings for quality and safety. There are five hospitals within the MemorialCare Health System serving Los Angeles and Orange counties: Anaheim Memorial, Long Beach Memorial, Miller Children's Hospital, Orange Coast Memorial in Fountain Valley, Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. MemorialCare is proud to sponsor the Angels' Youth Clinics to support its mission- improving the health and well being of individuals, families and our communities through innovation and the pursuit of excellence.


The 2008 schedule for clinics is listed below.


May 31, 2008 (Saturday)Fountain Valley - 10 AM - NoonMiles Square Park - 16400 Brookhurst StreetParticipants are encouraged to register in advance by e-mailing name and age to: fvllangelsclinic08@yahoo.com


June 14, 2008 (Saturday)San Clemente - 10 AM - NoonSan Gorgonio Park - 2900 Via San GorgonioFor Directions: http://www.sclittleleague.com/


July 22, 2008 (Tuesday)Compton - 10 AM - NoonMLB Urban Youth Academy - 901 East Artesia Blvd. www.mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/community/urban_youth.jsp


August 23, 2008 (Saturday)Anaheim -10 AM - NoonPearson Park - 400 North Harbor Blvdwww.anaheim.net


--ANGELS BASEBALL--


Visit the Angels on the Internet at: www.angelsbaseball.com.

NBA Announces All-Defensive Team


NEW YORK, May 12, 2008 – Forward Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced today. Garnett, who earns his ninth All-Defensive Team selection, and Bryant, who earns his eighth selection, each received 52 points overall including 24 first-place nods.


Also selected to the First Team are 2007 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby of the Denver Nuggets, who ranked first in blocks (3.61 bpg) and second in rebounds (13.1 rpg), and Bruce Bowen and Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs. Duncan earns his 11th consecutive selection, while Bowen earns his eighth and Camby his second.

Garnett earned his first Defensive Player of the Year award, presented by Kia Motors, by leading the Celtics in rebounds (9.2 rpg) and helping the team hold opponents to a league-best .419 field goal shooting percentage. The Celtics owned the largest point differential (+10.3) during the 2007-08 season and held opponents to 90.3 points per game, nearly nine points less than last season.

The NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets, Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons and Raja Bell of the Phoenix Suns. Paul and Howard are each making their first appearance on an All-Defensive team.

The voting panel consisted of the NBA’s 30 head coaches, who were asked to select NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams by position. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players from their own team. Two points were awarded for a First Team vote and one point was awarded for a Second Team vote.

Other players receiving votes, with point totals (First Team votes in parentheses): Chauncey Billups, Detroit, 14 (5); Jason Kidd, Dallas, 13 (4); Rasheed Wallace, Detroit, 13 (3); Rajon Rondo, Boston, 11 (3); Deron Williams, Utah, 8, (3); Josh Smith, Atlanta, 8, (3); Ron Artest, Sacramento, 8 (2); Tyson Chandler, New Orleans, 8 (1); Andrei Kirilenko, Utah, 6; Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers, 4 (1); LeBron James, Cleveland, 4 (1); Manu Ginobili, San Antonio, 4 (1); Kirk Hinrich, Chicago, 3 (1); Samuel Dalembert, Philadelphia, 3 (1); Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia, 1 (2); Brandon Roy, Portland, 2; Paul Pierce, Boston, 2; Andre Miller, Philadelphia, 1; Andres Nocioni, Chicago, 1; Baron Davis, Golden State, 1; Caron Butler, Washington, 1; Chris Bosh, Toronto, 1; Dikembe Mutombo, Houston, 1; Josh Howard, Dallas, 1; Richard Hamilton, Detroit, 1; Ronnie Brewer, Utah, 1.

Friday, May 9, 2008

DODGERS CELEBRATE MOTHER’S DAY WITH WEEKEND FESTIVITIES


Front Office participates in Revlon Run/Walk Tomorrow;

Moms enjoy gift from Smashbox, 'Walk in the Park' at Dodger Stadium Sunday

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers will participate in a Mother’s Day Weekend celebrating moms and emphasizing the urgency to fight breast cancer.

The celebration starts tomorrow, May 10, with the participation of Dodgers front office staff in the Revlon Run/Walk for Women. "Team 111," led by the Dodgers Ambassadors, is open for registration. Each walker contributes $35 as a registration fee, receives a bib, a t-shirt, a medallion, a snack bag, and a bottle of water.

To register, fans can visit http://www.revlonrunwalk.com/la/html.main/register08.html, or register at the Revlon Run/Walk on site, which opens at 7 a.m. near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Fans should be sure to include Team 111 on all registration forms to ensure their spot on the Dodger team.

Also on Saturday, Dodger legends Kenny Landreaux and Bobby Castillo will be at Autograph Alley from 5:10 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., posing for pictures with the 1981 World Series trophy.

The celebration continues on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11, as the first 25,000 Moms receive lip gloss as a gift compliments of Smashbox Cosmetics.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation will be recognized during pregame ceremonies as season ticket holder Nancy Colton and Dodger employee Desiree Sanchez, who are both fighting breast cancer, will throw out ceremonial first pitches. Colton is also being honored at the Revlon 5K Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk.

Also Sunday, Grammy Award-winning vocalist Melissa Manchester will not only sing the National Anthem, but will also sing, “Power of Ribbons,” which she wrote in honor of Colton’s battle against the disease. The song is available on Amazon.com, or by visiting http://www.melissa-manchester.com/ with all the proceeds going to breast cancer research.

During the game, select players will go to bat against breast cancer by using pink bats during the game. As part of this program, the pink bats, game-used lineup cards, and autographed ceremonial home plates will be auctioned in the future, with funds benefiting Susan G. Komen For The Cure. Log onto www.mlb.com for more details.

Following Sunday's game, the Dodgers will host a Mother’s Day 'Walk In The Park.' Women and their children are invited to stroll around the warning track shortly after the Astros. The walk will start at the center field gate in Parking Lot G.

For more information on any of these events, please call the Dodgers’ Public Relations Department at (323) 224-1301.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, pioneers in sport and world culture, are celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2008. In that period, they have won more games, more pennants, and more World Series than any other club in the National League. Since the start of the modern era in baseball, the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, combined, have a cumulative attendance of more than 176 million, the highest total in the history of baseball or any other sport.
Visit the Dodgers on the Internet at www.dodgers.com.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

MATT KEMP LAUNCHES COMMUNITY INITIATIVE “KEMP’S KIDS”


Too often in the media, we go out of our way to tell you the bad things athletes do. We never spend enough time pointing out the good things they do, which is a shame since the ones making a difference in their community far outnumber those who find trouble outside their sport.



Kemp’s program for kids begins this Friday, May 9

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers will once again support several community programs created by Dodger players and coaches, as several uniformed personnel will give back through various initiatives. Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp will launch “Kemp’s Kids” this Friday, as he will host kids from local Boys and Girls clubs this season.

“Kemp’s Kids” begins this Friday, May 9 before the Dodger game against the Houston Astros at 7:40 p.m. Youths from Challenger’s Boys and Girls Club in South Los Angeles and Roy W. Roberts II Watt Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club will be among the groups participating in the “Kemp’s Kids” program. The groups will receive tickets to the game, a T-shirt and a meal voucher courtesy of Panda Express, and will meet and take photos with Kemp during batting practice.

“I’m excited to join my teammates in creating my own program where I will be able to give back to the Los Angeles community,” said Kemp. “I think that any of us growing up would have enjoyed watching our favorite players practice and getting to walk on the field at Dodger Stadium and I’m happy to help make that happen for kids.”

Kemp’s initial big league interaction with the Boys & Girls Club came in 2006, when he and fellow Oklahoman Brad Penny visited the Salesian Boys and Girls Club, where they spent time with the youngsters in the newly renovated Dodger playroom.

The youths will be on field for Dodger batting practice and will get to meet Kemp at approximately 6 p.m. “Kemp’s Kids” will take place for the following games as well:

Friday, June 20 vs. Cleveland Indians 7:40 p.m.
Friday, July 11 vs. Florida Marlins 7:40 p.m.
Thursday, July 31 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks 7:10 p.m. (on field at about 5:30 p.m.)
Friday, August 15 vs. Milwaukee Brewers 7:40 p.m.

In 2007, the Dodgers and the Dodgers Dream Foundation assist more than 5,000 local youth organizations by renovating baseball fields in the community, through player appearances, and by donating more than 100,000 tickets, autographed memorabilia, donation of used equipment and much more. Last season, the Dodgers Dream Foundation affected an estimated 250,000 local youth through its various programs. In addition to Kemp, Dodgers Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones and Dodger legend Fernando Valenzuela have programs that host children at games this season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, pioneers in sport and world culture, are celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2008. In that period, they have won more games, more pennants, and more World Series than any other club in the National League. Since the start of the modern era in baseball, the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, combined, have a cumulative attendance of more than 176 million, the highest total in the history of baseball or any other sport.
Visit the Dodgers on the Internet at www.dodgers.com.

The Aftermath of the North Carolina and Indiana Primaries


I received this e-mail today from the Barack Obama campaign. In the aftermath of Tuesday's primaries in North Carolina and Indiana, the campaign is putting its spin on the results as well as the future of the race. However, even with the bias, there is some pretty good information regarding the delegate count.



Michael --


News broke this morning that Senator Clinton made three separate loans to her campaign in the past 30 days -- including one as recently as Monday.

These loans total more than $6.4 million, which combined with her previous personal loans, add up to at least $11.4 million she's loaned her campaign since February.

A spokesman said she may continue to "loan the campaign additional money out of her jointly-held assets" -- which include more than $100 million in income since her husband left the White House.

Meanwhile, by winning a double-digit victory in North Carolina and closing the gap in Indiana, Barack won another 100 delegates.

Barack Obama is now just 172 delegates away from winning the Democratic nomination. It's within sight.

This is a decisive moment in this race.

Barack has already won more votes, more delegates, and more than twice as many states as Senator Clinton, whose path to the nomination has grown extremely narrow. But these loans show that her campaign will continue to contest the remaining primaries vigorously.

We need to show that the voices of more than 1.5 million ordinary people donating whatever they can afford are more powerful than one person giving more than $11 million to their own campaign.

Here's the math of where we stand ...

There are only six contests remaining on the Democratic primary calendar and only 217 pledged delegates left to be awarded. Only 7% of the pledged delegates remain on the table. There are 253 remaining undeclared superdelegates, for a total of 470 delegates left to be awarded.

With North Carolina and Indiana complete, Barack Obama only needs 170 total delegates to capture the Democratic nomination. This is only 36% of the total remaining delegates.
Conversely, Senator Clinton needs 326 delegates to reach the Democratic nomination, which represents a startling 69% of the remaining delegates.

With the Clinton path to the nomination getting even narrower, we expect new and wildly creative scenarios to emerge in the coming days.

While those scenarios may be entertaining, they are not legitimate and will not be considered legitimate by this campaign or its millions of supporters, volunteers, and donors.

We want to be clear -- we believe that the winner of a majority of pledged delegates will be and should be the nominee of our party.

And we estimate that after the Oregon and Kentucky primaries on May 20th, we will have won a majority of the overall pledged delegates.

Evidently, the Clinton campaign agrees. According to a recent news report, by even their most optimistic estimates the Clinton Campaign expects to trail by more than 100 pledged delegates and will then ask the superdelegates to overturn the will of the voters.

But we have our own case to make: that millions of Americans volunteering their time and donating in small amounts have built a campaign that has won the most delegates, the most states, and the most votes.

And this campaign -- your campaign -- will be the one that wins the presidency in November and delivers a wave of support for Democrats at every level of office.

Click the link below to make a donation.


We'll be in touch as the situation evolves.


Thank you,

David Plouffe

Campaign Manager

Obama for America

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Kobe Named MVP: News Conference Highlights

I attended the NBA news conference Tuesday to announce that Kobe Bryant had won this year's MVP award. Here are some of the items that stood out to me.

*The entire team showed up in support, except Andrew Bynum who had flown to New Jersey to get another check up on his injured knee.

*The only coach I noticed missing from the festivities was Kurt Rambis.

* The Buss family was very well represented with Jerry, Jim and Jeannie.

*Three Basketball Hall of Famers were in the house: Phil Jackson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West

*Corey Maggette of the Clippers also attended the news conference. In addition to he and Kobe sharing the same agent (Rob Pelinka), Corey is also one of Kobe's closest friends in the league.

*Besides the MVP trophy named in honor of the late Maurice Podoloff, the first commissioner of the NBA, Kobe also received a brand new 2009 Kia Borrego for winning the award. Don't expect Kobe to be cruising through the OC in a Kia, however. He promptly donated it to a local chapter of the Boys And Girls Club.

*One of the first things JA Adande and I noticed was that Kobe seemed genuinely nervous when the news conference started. Something he later admitted himself. Both of which were equally shocking. I can only think of one time where Kobe actually looked nervous, but for him to admit something like that is even more impressive.

*Kobe praised his current teammates throughout the news conference. He even referred to the honor as a team award. At one point, he said his teammates make him look better than he actually is. What a difference a year makes! Last summer, Kobe laughed at the notion that Andrew Bynum would turn into a proven starter, criticized team ownership and management for not surrounding him with a better supporting cast, and threatened not to play for the Lakers ever again. If Kobe was truly sincere (he definitely seemed to be) in complimenting his teammates, it shows a tremendous amount of growth as both a teammate and a person.

*Kobe was asked about the turnaround from the beginning of the season until today's news conference. He called it an "emotional roller coaster." He admitted that if given the chance to do it all over again, he would have handled things differently. And he even gave GM Mitch Kupchak credit for pulling off the moves that enabled the Lakers to post the best record in the Western Conference.

*There were a few particularly funny moments during the news conference as well. 1) Luke Walton using one of the media microphones to ask Kobe, "Since you couldn't do this without your teammates, do you plan to hook them up with some special gifts?" 2) Tex Winter, who also made use of a media microphone, introducing himself as Lakers assistant coach, consultant and "insultant" before asking, "So Kobe, how do you like the triangle?" To which Kobe replied, "I love it, Tex!"

*In case you were wondering, Kobe becomes just the fourth LA Laker to ever win an MVP. Kareem, Magic and Shaq were the others.

Lakers Set To Face Toughest NBA Road Test


EnergySolutions Arena has long been regarded as one of the toughest venues for visiting teams.

This season, in fact, it was the best home-court advantage in the NBA. The Jazz posted a 37-4 home record.

So just what is it exactly about this arena that makes it so difficult on the visitors?

“I enumerated some of the things a couple of years ago and I was fined $50,000,” said Phil Jackson.

I don’t think anybody wants Phil to have to come out of his pocket again, but there are two very distinct features about EnergySolutions Arena. One is physical and the other emotional.

Let’s start with the physical. The building’s design seats the fans as close to the action as possible.

“They are right on top of you, said Jordan Farmar. “And they are really into the game. So, all of that enthusiasm brings a lot of noise.”

“It kind of reminds you of college days,” said Luke Walton. “They sit right on the court. If you dive for a loose ball, you are diving into their crowd.”

“As a player, you kind of like that, but it does make it more difficult to play there and win. And it definitely helps the home team out a lot.”

And then there’s the emotional aspect of EnergySolutions Arena-- with energy being the keyword.

“The energy that is in the building is special,” said Derek Fisher. “The fans are excited. The players are excited. But I also think at times just the intensity in their building is not matched or equaled anywhere else.”

“I don’t think it’s the altitude or anything else. The Jazz play at an intensity on their home court that is different sometimes than any other place.”

But consider this statistic. Of the four losses the Jazz suffered at home during the regular season, one of them was to the Lakers.

However, that still doesn’t mean EnergySolutions Arena is one of Phil Jackson’s favorite road venues.

Said Jackson, “If they get that bear to stop blowing the exhaust from the motorcycle in front of our bench for the first two minutes of the warm-up, it’s not so bad after they gas us!”

Fisher Ready To Face Jazz Fans in Playoff Atmosphere


On May 9th, 2007, after missing Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Golden State Warriors to be with his daughter, Tatum, while she underwent surgery for a rare eye cancer, Derek Fisher returned to EnergySolutions Arena midway through the 3rd quarter of Game Two to a standing ovation from the Jazz faithful.

And in true hero fashion, Fisher forced a key turnover at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime and later knocked down a clutch 3-pointer to seal the win for the home team.

Fast forward six and a half months to November 30th. When after asking to be released from his contract so he could move his family closer to more specialized doctors for his daughter’s care, Fisher made his return to Salt Lake City as a member of the hated Lakers.

This time he was jeered, instead of cheered.

“It caught me off guard,” said Fisher. “I didn’t expect to be cheered or revered as a hero of any kind, but I didn’t necessarily expect that reaction. So it was difficult to adjust to. I really didn’t find myself able to adjust to it that particular night.”

Fisher said that night was rough for him personally and for the team as well. The Jazz thoroughly outplayed the Lakers that night--posting a 120-96 victory.

But when the Lakers returned to Salt Lake City nearly three months later, Fisher said he felt more comfortable because he looked at the situation simply as him having a job to do, and not from a personal standpoint.

The team seemed to respond behind him as the lakers beat utah 106-95 for one of only four losses the Jazz suffered at home during the regular season.

So now the question is-- what will the atmosphere at Energy Solutions be for Game Three?

“It will just be that type of environment where the fans, players, and coaches will all be at a high level emotionally wanting to lay everything out there possible to help each team advance,” said Fisher. “I don’t think things will be out of line or inappropriate in any way. But I do think that myself personally, and my team, can expect a hostile and raucous environment.”

Monday, May 5, 2008

Matt Kemp Named NL Player of the Week


Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been named Bank of America Presents the National League Player of the Week for the period ending May 4th. Bank of America, the Official Bank of Major League Baseball, is the presenting sponsor of the National League and American League Player of the Week Awards, which reflect Bank of America’s long-standing tradition of promoting and recognizing higher standards of accomplishment.

Kemp led the National League with 11 RBI and six stolen bases and tied for the league-lead with 11 hits. The 23-year-old right fielder hit .407 (11-27) with four doubles, seven runs scored, a slugging percentage of .556 and an on-base percentage of .433. On May 2nd at Colorado, Kemp hit two 2-RBI doubles leading the Dodgers to an 11-6 victory and their seventh consecutive win. He recorded four multi-hit games and three multi-RBI games and hit safely in all six games played. This marks the first time that Matt has won weekly honors, and it is the first time that a Dodger has captured this recognition since Andre Ethier won in July 2006.

Other nominees this past week included Kemp’s Dodger teammates Rafael Furcal (.393, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and Juan Pierre (.563, 3 RBI); San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez (.385, 4 HR, 6 RBI); Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun (.320, 2 HR, 9 RBI), Mike Cameron (.269, 3 HR, 7 RBI) and Corey Hart (.417, 3 RBI); Atlanta’s Chipper Jones (.391, 2 HR, 7 RBI), Mark Kotsay (.429, 6 RBI) and Tim Hudson (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 10 SO); Pittsburgh’s Jose Bautista (.333, 3 HR, 7 RBI) and Xavier Nady (.450, 7 RBI); Houston’s Lance Berkman (.333, 2 HR, 8 RBI) and Hunter Pence (.261, 3 HR, 8 RBI); Florida’s Jeremy Hermida (.458, 3 RBI) and Dan Uggla (.286, 4 HR, 8 RBI); Kosuke Fukudome (.400, 3 2B, 4 RBI) and Geovany Soto (.391, 2 HR, 9 RBI) of the Cubs; Ryan Church (.300, 2 HR, 6 RBI) and Jose Reyes (.444, 3 3B, 3 RBI) of the Mets; Colorado’s Aaron Cook (2-0, 1.23 ERA, 5 SO); Philadelphia’s Chase Utley (.348, 3 HR, 5 RBI); Joel Piñeiro (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 SO) of the Cardinals; San Francisco’s Aaron Rowand (.478, 2 HR, 5 RBI); and Washington’s Jon Rauch (0.00 ERA, 3 SV, 1 SO).


Tourneau, the world’s largest watch store, will award Matt Kemp with a luxury Swiss Timepiece, suitably engraved, in recognition of his accomplishments as Bank of America Presents the National League Player of the Week.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Report: Kobe To Win MVP


As expected, Kobe Bryant will be named this season's Most Valuable Player, that according to a report in the LA Times.


NBA Commissioner will travel to LA to present the award to Bryant. The ceremony is expected to be held shortly before the Lakers Game Two matchup with the Jazz at Staples Center.

The award will be Kobe's first MVP honor. He finished second in the league in scoring with 28.3 points a game, and he guided the Lakers to the top seed in the Western Conference with a 57-25 record.

Lakers/Jazz Series Set


Here is the updated schedule and national television arrangements for theConference Semifinals matchup between the Lakers and the Jazz.


L.A. Lakers vs.Utah


Game 1 - Sun May 4 Utah at L.A.Lakers 12:30PM 3:30PM ABC/R


Game 2 - Wed May 7 Utah at L.A.Lakers 7:30PM 10:30PM TNT


Game 3 - Fri May 9 L.A.Lakers at Utah 7:00PM 9:00PM ESPN


Game 4 - Sun May 11 L.A.Lakers at Utah 1:30PM 3:30PM ABC


Game 5 * Wed May 14 Utah at L.A.Lakers TBD TBD TNT


Game 6 * Fri May 16 L.A.Lakers at Utah TBD TBD ESPN


Game 7 * Mon May 19 Utah at L.A.Lakers TBD TBD TNT

Playboy Responds To Headline Criticism

As written earlier, the June edition of Playboy will feature a 5,000-word column by Jason Whitlock on the current state of our nation's prison system. The headline of the article reads: "The Black KKK: Thug life is killing Black America. It's time to do something about it."

In response to recent criticism over the headline, Playboy has issued a statement from editorial director, Chris Napolitano.

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"Playboy has an impeccable history in dealing with civil rights issues. We didn't have any ulterior motives when deciding on a headline for Mr. Whitlock's excellent story.

"Even though we used the working title 'The Black KKK' in our assignment letter to Whitlock on February 7, I was not made aware of his displeasure until a month after we had gone to press.

"From the beginning, our idea was not to stir divisiveness but to stir debate. I still believe the title, presentation and planned publicity campaign are appropriate and accurately reflect the points in the article expressed in its introductory paragraph and throughout.

"I feel that most people who read his brilliant cultural commentary will regard it as a powerful indictment of the root causes of violence and despair devastating our cities and suburbs."


Even if Playboy used the term, "The Black KKK", in the original assignment letter to Whitlock in February (something Whitlock should have caught, by the way), it still does not absolve Playboy and/or Napolitano of poor judgement. Just because Whitlock originally came up with the phrase and has used it frequently, doesn't make using it again a good decision.

Unless of course, you are trying to sell magazines!

UPDATE: Since the publishing of this post, Jason Whitlock e-mailed me in response to the Playboy statement. This seems to be a classic case of "he said, he said." Here is Whitlock's version of the story.

"They sent the contract/assignment letter at the end of March, after I'd already filed the column. Yeah, it's dated Feb. 7 on the letter, but they didn't put it in the mail until the end of March. Because of travel, I never even opened it until April 20 and sent it back, and they received it on April 23rd, the day they sent me their racist pitch letter."

Again, it's all "he said, he said" at this point. Either way, there's been a serious lack of editorial and moral judgement here. Blame can be pointed in either, if not, both directions.

Playboy Should Be Embarrassed


The June edition of Playboy will reach new lows in exploitative marketing and sensational journalism through an expose' by Kansas City Star Columnist Jason Whitlock.

Whitlock says "the story is about the astronomical financial and cultural price we all — black, white, brown and yellow — are paying for locking up 2.3 million of our citizens. The piece focuses on California’s penal system, the state’s too-powerful prison guard union, Jim Brown’s anti-gang-violence organization and Mexican-black hostility."

However, Playboy, and more specifically editorial director Chris Napolitano, is taking this opportunity to further fan the racial flames by headlining the piece, "The Black KKK: Thug life is killing Black America, and it’s time to do something about it.”

According to Whitlock, nowhere in the article is that phrase written and never did he even mention that phrase to the people he interviewed. It is worth pointing out, however, that the term "Black KKK" was originally conceived by Whitlock and he has used it frequently in his writing.

I, for one, have never been a fan of the term although I did understand what he was trying to say. I just thought it was a poor choice of words and a greater lack of judgement.

So Whitlock is definitely the victim of his own writing to a degree. Similar to the prisoners about which he wrote, "if you do the crime, you will do the time." If he had not written the line, it would not be a headline.

However, what Playboy is doing is simply outrageous. If the cover shot was three black men in black hoods, instead of the customary young hottie, you could say this action is as exploitative--if not more-- as Golfweek's now infamous "noose" cover.

Whitlock's previous wrong in judgement and phrasing in no way validates this obvious and despicable wrong by Playboy. If someone at Golfweek lost his job, how can someone at Playboy not lose his??